I spend the majority of my time in the summer on Fire Island. Whether it’s for work or play, I’m usually found in a little town called Kismet. A place where there are no cars, shoes are optional and the beach is just steps away. For the past few years, I’ve held the same summer job at The Red Wagon, a boutique located on the ferry dock.
I’d have to wake up early prior to the start of my shift to allow time to cross the Great South Bay to get there. Mornings before work were spent scrambling to catch a ferry, or if I was lucky enough, my brother would take me across on our boat, which allowed for me to have a few extra minutes to purchase an overpriced iced coffee at the Kismet Market before opening the doors of the novelty boutique.
Even on the busiest of work days, I leave with a smile on my face. The way people act on Fire Island is quite unique in itself; everyone on the island is casually dressed, sun-kissed and barefoot without a care in the world. The manner in which people speak with each other is so carefree and laid back, for the most part everyone’s automatically kind.
I find myself roped in lengthy conversations with customers regarding every aspect of their lives, (they love to overshare) and I listen. I love when they wished me luck embarking on my first semester of college and asked me how it went the following summer. I love when the young girls selling hand-painted seashells down the street talk to me about how many likes they get on TikTok and how many people purchased their shells. I love meeting new friends who take the same ferry commute as me and give me perks at their jobs. I love it all.
As the hours pass throughout my work day, I get to watch the waves crash on the dock and the sky shift from a clear blue to a gorgeous pink and orange mirage. The view has to be one of the best perks of my job. A perfect viewing location of the entire bay, boats of all sizes pass by, jet skiers racing each other, paddle boarders who launched out on the beach next to the store. When I describe this atmosphere to friends I’ve met at New Paltz who didn’t grow up near the beach, they’re puzzled by the way things are on Fire Island.
The warm weeks have a healthy balance of work and freetime, but I tend to spend any freetime I have at the beach. Soaking up the sun and engulfing myself in the crisp blue ocean waves is the most relieving experience. In these precious moments of bliss, I find myself yearning for the feeling to last forever. I’m completely carefree and truly happy when I’m at the beach.
When I arrive home each night, with sand in my hair and warm, red cheeks from my fresh sunburn, I feel like I can breathe again. I love when my only concern of the day is which bathing suit I’m wearing, or if I’m hanging out with my friends when I get home from the beach. I love the way that everything always smells faintly of the ocean. I love when I can drive around with no top on my Jeep.
The summer is notorious for its warm and lengthy days, but it also has the most calming and ethereal nights. At night, the world is warm and humid and the cicadas provide a humming background noise. You can go outside in shorts and a tee-shirt and it’s just as warm as it was earlier that day. It’s so peaceful to spend time with my friends staring at the array of stars that seem to hide themselves in the winter, and talking about how we wish these moments would last forever.
I wholeheartedly feel more like my true self in the summer. Call it seasonal sadness, but I don’t feel like I can function correctly when the world shows a cold shoulder. I love the changing of seasons, and I have fun doing activities in each, but the summertime is when I’m able to be free.
An obvious reason for my cherishing of the warmest season of the year is the lack of school and the stresses that come with it. Without the structure of learning assigned material, my mind is allowed to wander and experience more things first-hand, rather than behind a screen or in the back of a crowded lecture hall.
I’m able to see the world more, without required attendance anywhere for countless days. The warmth also allows for more activities available than in the cold winter months. Outdoors is the preferred place to be, and it’s so much more enriching than spending time cooped up in my dorm room binge watching Euphoria.
In the cold months, I relish the thought of devouring a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a beach towel while the sun is beaming in my eyes. The atmosphere of a backyard party, with hamburgers on the grill and roasting marshmallows by a campfire. I ache for the golden streaks of blonde in my hair, brought out by the sun.
The summer allows for so much more out of life. It gives the time you need to start new hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and just enjoy your time here on Earth. The food is fresher, the air is warmer and you can let go a little bit. Although I spend a good amount of time working over the summer, it doesn’t feel as strenuous as previous jobs I’ve held in my life. Everything has a golden glow in the summer.
If you can’t tell, I’ve really really really been missing the summer. I can’t wait until I’m back on the Great South Bay, with the sun shining overhead and the water being as flat as a pancake. I’m counting down the days until it’s finally warm enough for me to sleep without my heating pad every night and I’m not shivering as soon as I step out of the shower.
Summer has its time, as every season does, and it always seems to come and go in a flicker. I’m very excited to make the most of my time this year, and truly stick to the plans I wish to pursue. Even though it’s always lovely, I find that I don’t accomplish everything I intend to in the summertime. This summer, I hope you step out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve been saying you will but never get around to. As for me, this summer I intend to go surfing, stepping out of my comfort zone like I’ve been telling myself I would for years.
Summer only lasts so long, so you have to make the most of it. Soon enough, it will be summer again and the stress of school will be lifted off of my shoulders. Until then, I’ll be planning my summer bucket-list and preparing to spend plenty of time relaxing on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.